Tree programs take root

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A host of tree canopy initiatives have popped up in recent years in Seattle and King County. While none seek to limit tree loss to development on private property, the increase in attention is good news for trees owned by the city, many of which are nearing the end of their lifespan and will need to be replaced. These programs include:

  • The One Million Trees Campaign King County’s 2015 campaign has a goal of planting one million trees across the county by 2020. The county plans to provide half the trees, and is working with local governments and nonprofits for the other half. The county has already planted 60,000 trees and will soon launch an online dashboard to track progress toward the million-tree goal. Volunteers can sign up online.
  • The Green Seattle Partnership a joint effort by the city of Seattle and sustainability nonprofit Forterra, and, according to the city, the largest urban forest restoration project in the country. Started in 2004, the partnership is more than halfway through its 20-year strategic plan to keep 2,500 acres of Seattle’s forested parks healthy. The program relies on volunteers and community groups to care for trees on public lands such as Carkeek Park, Longfellow Creek and Genesee Park. Care by public stewards includes removing tree-strangling non-native vines, planting new trees and maintaining existing trees. Interested volunteers can find an event near them on the partnership’s website.
  • City Habitats launched in summer 2015, this Nature Conservancy-led program works to decrease polluted stormwater runoff by increasing trees in areas that need them most across cities in the Puget Sound area. It involves 70 local partners in the public, private and nonprofit sectors working across Puget Sound. The Nature Conservancy set the ambitious goal of obtaining the same type of canopy cover assessment that Seattle just completed for the rest of Puget Sound in the next two years.
  • The Urban Bird Treaty on May 5th, Seattle became the 28th urban bird treaty city in the U.S. The Urban Bird Treaty is U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service program that partners with states and cities, as well as local nonprofits like Seattle Audubon, to protect bird migration routes. Cities located on these routes, such as Seattle on what is known as the Pacific Flyway, can pose hazards to birds making long migratory journeys. The project will focus on reducing hazards like bright lights at night and creating urban bird habitat through a continuous network of trees across the city, made up mostly of urban forest.
  • Trees for Neighborhoods — since 2009, the city of Seattle has been giving away 1,000 trees a year to residents. Each household can receive up to four trees with watering bags and mulch for each, along with assistance in applying for a permit if planting street trees. The program also provides assistance and education on where to plant and how to care for a new tree, as well as check ups on trees given out through the program. Residents can apply for the tree lottery in July and sign up for more information and email notifications through the city of Seattle’s website.
  • Tree Ambassadors — the city of Seattle’s network of volunteers that care for trees across the city and educate the community about the importance of trees. Ambassadors lead stewardship projects and educational tree walks. Residents interested in becoming ambassadors can email treeambassador@seattle.gov.

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